The World Bank and Tobacco Control: The Facts

August 20, 2013

Tobacco use is the world’s leading underlying cause of preventable death.

  • In the last decade, global deaths from tobacco have increased from 2.1 million to 6 million.
  • Every year 600,000 non-tobacco users, mostly women and children, die from exposure to tobacco smoke.
  • Worldwide, 200 million adult women smoke cigarettes. In 25 countries, girls smoke more than boys.
  • Smoking is responsible for about 20% of global tuberculosis (TB) incidence, and reduces the effectiveness of TB treatment.
  • Between 2000 and 2008, total costs attributable to tobacco in China more than quadrupled, from US$7.2 billion to US$28.9 billion.
  • In Bangladesh, direct costs of smoking are estimated at US$386 million, or more than 1% of GDP.
  • Between 2003-2008, 11.3% of Egypt’s total health expenditure was used to treat tobacco-related illness.
  • In all World Health Organization (WHO) regions except in Europe, cigarettes became much more affordable between 2000 and 2010.

The World Bank has been a global leader on tobacco control.

The Bank is actively supporting countries to halt and reverse tobacco use.

  • In partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, WHO and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Health, Nutrition and Population Unit of the Human Development Network has launched an initiative to support country tobacco control efforts, with a focus on increasing taxes.
  • During 2012 and 2013, the Bank successfully provided technical assistance on tobacco taxation to The Philippines (pdf) and The Gambia, resulting in tobacco tax reforms in both countries.
  • In 2013 the Bank launched the technical dialogue and a study in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
  • The Bank partners with WHO FCTC’s (pdf) Secretariat missions to assess implementation progress and issues related to Articles 6 (taxation), 15 (illicit trade), recent missions included: Burundi, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
  • The Bank collaborates with multiple in country and global partners, including academia and civil society to ensure coordination at country level on tobacco control and tobacco tax policies.